Through "desegregation:" Could New York City improve its public schools through some form of "desegregation?"
Could the city improve the social experience its children receive in their schools? Could the city expect to produce academic improvement?
Hardened figures like Kevin Drum say this is unlikely. We're strongly inclined to agree with Drum when he "goes on" in this way, based in large part on the student demographics of Gotham's public schools.
Depending on how you want to define it, there's only so much "desegregation" you can produce in a giant school system with the student demographics detailed below. Given standard progressive models of how you improve academic performance through types of "desegregation," it isn't clear that you can engineer any academic improvement at all:
Student demographics, New York City Public SchoolsTo make the numbers believable, we've taken them from the New York Times—from this June 2016 magazine piece by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who has often written about public school desegregation, for the Times and elsewhere.
White students: 15 percent
Black students: 27 percent
Hispanic students: 41 percent
Asian-American students: 16 percent
Low-income students: 75 percent
Liberal academics have been amazingly inventive in their ability to generate new definitions of "desegregation," a term which is historically fraught. That said, common sense suggests that there's only so much desegregation you can achieve within a system with New York City's student demographics.
In terms of academic improvement through desegregation, the challenge is especially daunting, if we consider the standard models for such strategies of the past twenty years. That said, you'll rarely read about such topics in the Times, which tends to use "desegregation" as a type of magical talisman—as a brand- and identity-builder.
At one time, "segregation" referred to schools where kids from different "races" were kept totally separate from each other as a matter of law. New York City's schools aren't legally segregated in that way. Plenty of kids already attend public school in New York with kids of other "races."
This further limits the possible gains to be achieved through additional "desegregation"—that is to say, through efforts to produce greater racial and income balance within each of the giant system's many schools.
That doesn't mean that such efforts would be a bad idea, although they always could be. It means that the possibilities are limited, unless "desegregation" is mainly a tool made for the use of glorifying our own flawless and pure liberal souls.
In this semi-back-to-school week, we'll be taking a look at recent efforts within the Times to glorify this liberal or possibly pseudo-liberal crusade.
Last Thursday, this report was produced by a new, and youngish, New York Times reporter. In our view, the report was a study in the insulting, uncaring foolishness the Times routinely promulgates in this realm. Warning to those youngish scribes:
It's great to land a job at the Times. But the Times will dumb you way, way down, especially in this area!
This morning, the Times has gone front-page with this 3000-word further paean to the "desegregation" being imagined for Gotham's schools. The new chancellor is "all in" on this crusade. But if we care about Gotham's kids, to what extent does this make ultimate sense?
Our final thought for today:
Take another look at those student demographics. With those data in mind, how much can Gotham sensibly hope to accomplish through "desegregation?"
How much can Gotham expect to achieve? Please disregard any possible gains to our glorious liberal tribe's all-important self-image.